Saturday, June 8, 2013

Introducing #TheSaladBar Monthly Group...Strawberry-Mango Chicken Salad with Summer Berries

In case you haven't noticed by all the salad recipes I share in here, we eat a lot of salads here at Casa Garcia. Especially during the hot Texas Summer that seems to go on...and on...forever. Face it, salads have a lot going for them: they're light and refreshing, they're very healthy, and they're extremely versatile. Since I'm always looking for new salads to add to my dinner rotation, I decided to start a new monthly recipe sharing group called The Salad Bar. Each month, I will select a theme...and members of the group will share a salad recipe that fits the theme. It can be a side salad or a main dish salad. As long as it fits the theme, I really want participants to have fun and let their creativity shine! For the inaugural event, I went with one of my favorite go-to Summertime ingredients: berries. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries...and beyond! I love to add strawberries to our salads, so I picked up some gorgeous local strawberries this week and created a quick and easy main dish salad to share today.

My Strawberry-Mango Chicken Salad combines diced strawberry and mango over a base of field greens, for a slightly tropical feel. I had some chipotle marinated chicken chunks in the freezer, so I grilled them up. Add in some candied nuts, creamy feta and crunchy wonton strips...and it was a salad so heart that it satisfied Michael's manly appetite. 

I whipped up a simple and flavorful strawberry-infused vinaigrette while the chicken seared. All together, it took me about 30 minutes to make two main dish salads. I added some frozen garlic breadsticks on the side, but you can certainly serve this filling salad "as is" for a healthy and hearty warm-weather dinner. 

Strawberry-Mango Chicken Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
a Weekend Gourmet original
Step 1: Make the strawberry vinaigrette by adding the following ingredients to a large measuring cup: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup orange juice, 2-3 tsp. balsamic vinegar (to taste), 2 tbs. all-fruit strawberry jam, 1 tsp. dehydrated garlic, and salt & pepper to taste. Whisk well to combine and set aside.

Step 2: Pan sear 3/4 lb. of chicken breast that is seasoned to your liking. We like spicy, so I used some chipotle-marinated breast. Once the chicken is seared and cooked through, let it rest for about 5 minutes so the juices go back into the meat. Cut into bite-sized pieces. 

Step 3: To assemble the salads, add a package of field greens to a large bowl. Toss with about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette, then arrange half of the greens onto two plates. Top with: quartered strawberries, diced mango (about half a small mango per salad), crumbled feta or blue cheese, candied pecans, and wonton crisps. I buy the strips in the Produce section of my local grocery store. If you can't locate them, crushed tortilla chips would work too. Just before serving, drizzle a bit more of the reserved vinaigrette on top of each salad.

This salad is hearty, but light. The strawberries and mango work really nicely together, and both can stand up to the spices on the chicken. Add in some salty, creamy feta and texture from the nuts and wonton strips...and you've got a lot of fantastic flavors and textures going on! The dressing is really nice, providing a nice balance of sweet and tart. Homemade dressing takes a few minutes to make, but it tastes better than most bottled dressings.  

I hope you'll give my salad a try on the next warm Summer evening. I also hope you'll check out all the great berrylicious salads that the other members of The Salad Bar are sharing today. To visit them, simply click on the picture in the links below. I know I can't wait to try them in my kitchen during the long, hot Texas Summer that's just getting started! If you're a salad lover, we'd love to have you join us at The Salad Bar. To join, simply visit our Facebook page to sign up.

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